London's New Year's Day Parade
The London New Year's Day Parade is an annual parade through the streets of the West End of London on 1 January. The parade first took place in 1987, as the Lord Mayor of Westminster's Big Parade. The parade was renamed in 1994 and for 2000 only it was called the Millennium Parade.
The parade route is two miles (3.2 km) long. Before 2010 it began at Parliament Square in Westminster, continuing along Parliament Street and Whitehall to Trafalgar Square. It then continued along Cockspur Street and Regent Street. The final section was along Piccadilly and the parade ended at Green Park.
In 2010 the parade route was reversed to "appease US television broadcasters" and to "give the American audience the best views of the capital's landmarks, such as the Elizabeth Tower of the Palace of Westminster (The Houses of Parliament, also known as Big Ben) and Trafalgar Square". The revised route started at the Ritz Hotel, along Piccadilly to Piccadilly Circus, down Regent Street, then along Pall Mall to Trafalgar Square, then along Whitehall to Parliament Square.
The parade is used to raise funds for charities in London and representatives from each of the 32 London boroughs are encouraged to take part as a "borough entry", judged as part of the event. The winning entry in the 2009 parade was the London Borough of Merton. The parade is also used to honour people from each borough who have been heroic in some way during the previous year. Every year, BBC London holds a competition to find two talented young musicians to travel to the United States and play with an American high school marching band, both in America and in the London Parade, celebrating the special relationship between Britain and the USA.
The 130-member Dixie Heights High School Marching Colonels from Edgewood, Kentucky performed in the parade in 1991 led by Band Director Daryl Angel. The 240-member Walker Valley High School Band from Cleveland, Tennessee, directed by Alan Hunt, and the vocal ensemble from the same school, marched in the 2007 parade. The vocal ensemble was also honoured by being asked to start the parade off by singing the British national anthem. The 140-member marching band from Fort Myers High School in Florida, USA, were initially prohibited from taking part in the 2007 parade because US education officials feared they might be caught in a terrorist attack. The decision was later overruled. The school also hosted the two winners of that year's BBC London competition.
Other American high school groups that have performed include the Gosnen High School Marching Band, Goshen Indiana. Aberdeen High School Marching Eagle, from Aberdeen, Maryland, the Troy High School marching band from Troy, Michigan, the Deep Run Marching Wildcats of Glen Allen, VA, the Blue Valley West Marching Band from Overland Park, Kansas, Turpin High School marching band from Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Golden Eagle Marching Band from Fleming Island, Florida. The Stone Bridge High School Marching Bulldogs from Ashburn, Virginia, and the Menchville High School Marching Monarchs from Newport News, Virginia, who have performed in the parade twice, in 2009 and 2014. The Briar Woods High School marching band, also from Ashburn, Virginia, performed in 2011. The Waubonsie Valley High School Marching Warriors from Aurora, Illinois performed in 2006.
London's town crier is also part of the parade.
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